Jens Jensen is a man whose work can be seen around Illinois, and whose life story is told in a new documentary. Jensen was an immigrant from Denmark who made his mark as a landscape architect, designing Starved Rock State Park, Lincoln Memorial Gardens in Springfield, Ewing Manor in Bloomington, and dozens of landscapes at local institutions and private residences.
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He also found the locations for other parks, says Carey Lundin, director of Jens Jensen, the Living Green. “Basically Jensen was asked to go out and survey the land around the state of Illinois to identify parks all over the state that should be set aside, and many of them are. Besides Starved Rock, there’s Apple River Canyon, there’s Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife, there’s Giant City State Park, there’s Bald Knob Wilderness, Tunnel Hill, Dixon Springs. They’re all over the state; he identified quite a few of ‘em,” she said.
Lundin characterizes Jensen’s landscape work in parks as nature, but better.
Lundin says Jensen, who died in 1951, was an interesting fellow who battled with his clients because he wanted to do things his way.
Her documentary is making the rounds of group screenings, and can be purchased on Amazon.